Personal and political

May 27, 2014

That Kim Dotcom doesn’t like Prime Minister John Key should have been obvious to anyone who’s taken even a cursory interest in the news.

But yesterday’s testimony by Rodney MP Mark Mitchell, a witness for the defence in the case against John Banks, shows something beyond dislike that appears to be both personal and political:

Kim Dotcom vowed to “destroy” John Banks and Prime Minister John Key, MP Mark Mitchell has told the High Court in Auckland.

Mitchell, the National MP for Rodney, today gave evidence for the defence at ACT MP Banks’ trial for filing a false electoral return.

Mitchell said he had met Dotcom at a barbecue in his electorate where the internet entrepreneur was “agitated” about the case to extradite Dotcom to the US on criminal copyright charges.

He said Dotcom told him: “I’m going to destroy John Key, I’m going to take down John Banks, I’m going to take down the Government.”

Mitchell’s other evidence was suppressed. . .

Dotcom ought to be very grateful he’s in New Zealand which shows a great deal more respect for the law and democracy than he appears to.

In many other countries that sort of tirade against a Prime Minister and MP would result in a charge of treason and in some they wouldn’t bother with such niceties as a fair trial before reaching a verdict.


Mr Fines

February 2, 2014

Consequences for people who ignore reparation payments or fines for traffic offences are going to be tougher from next month:

People with unpaid fines or reparation for traffic-related offences could find themselves barred from driving under powerful new sanctions which come into effect this month, Courts Minister Chester Borrows says.

From Monday 17 February ‘Driver Licence Stop Orders’ (DLSOs) can be imposed on anyone who fails to pay traffic-related fines imposed on them by a Court, Police or a local government authority – or a reparation order imposed on them by a Court – for a traffic-related offence.

Mr Borrows says DLSOs are a powerful new sanction, which will initially be targeted at repeat offenders who’ve racked up big overdue debts.

“There are around 136,000 people who between them owe $48 million in traffic related fines and are making no attempt to pay,” Mr Borrows says.

“A lot of them have chosen to ignore repeated reminders and if they remain uncooperative they’ll pay for it with their driver licence.

“We will focus initially on the worst offenders, but anyone with an overdue fine should seize this opportunity to contact the Ministry of Justice and make a payment arrangement if they wish to hold on to their licence.”

The Ministry of Justice, which will hand out the new sanction, will start by giving people with large amounts owing 14 days’ notice to either pay up or set up a payment plan.  They’ll get one more reminder, and if they’re not compliant a bailiff will be sent to seize their driver licence.

Their licences will remain suspended until the fine is paid in full, or payment arrangements are in place.  And if they’re caught driving while their licence is suspended they could be prosecuted, and have the vehicle they were driving seized for 28 days.

“Of course the aim here isn’t to suspend lots of driver licences,” Mr Borrows says.

“The aim is to get people who’ve been ignoring the authority of law to take things seriously, and to pay their traffic-related fines.

“We’ve made big inroads in recent years in getting people to pay fines – thanks to sanctions such as the powers to seize property, stop people from travelling overseas, stop people making purchases on credit, and directly deducting money from wages. 

“Those measures have seen the total level of unpaid fines and reparation fall by nearly a quarter of a billion dollars since 2009.  But that still leaves $554.4 million in unpaid fines – the vast majority of offenders (96%) owing money for vehicle-related offences.  In that context, the ability to bar people from driving is a powerful new tool to enforce penalties, because driving matters to most people with fines.”

A new television, radio and online advertising campaign will launch on Sunday 2 February, letting people know about DLSOs and other enforcement powers, and encouraging those with unpaid traffic fines or reparation to arrange payment.


What’s news?

December 2, 2013

Cameron Slater who runs Whaleoil has been ordered by a judge to reveal his sources because his blog “isn’t a news medium”.

But media law expert says he has a good case to appeal.

. . . Media lawyer Steven Price says he appears to have a good case because the act defines a news medium as one that disseminates news, which he says Whale Oil does.

And he said, a recent Law Commission report talks about bloggers being important to free speech.

A paper on media law at university while studying journalism more than three decades ago doesn’t make me a media law expert.

But I went to the dictionary and found the definition of news:newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events.

Whale Oil breaks a lot of stories which appears to fit that definition.

 


Wrongeds’ rights should trump wrong doer’s

September 7, 2013

Protecting victims and keeping their identities secret is often used as the reason for suppressing the names of criminals.

But what happens if the victims don’t want the name suppressed, even if it means disclosing who they are?

Two Christchurch women who were sexually abused as children will next week go to court and fight to have their name suppression lifted.

The sisters believe their abuser is using suppression orders to protect himself.

Nearly two decades after he was convicted and four decades after the abuse the women – now grandmothers at 48 and 52 – are going back to court to try and have their own name suppression lifted in the hope it’ll help expose him.

They believe he’s using the suppression to protect himself and want to warn parents.

“I could basically be arrested if I was to speak my name out, that’s how dumb it is,” one of the women says.

Both were shocked when news broke he was taking the Sensible Sentencing Trust to court for naming and shaming him on its offender website.

The director of human rights proceedings is now taking action in the Human Rights Review Tribunal on the man’s behalf, funded by the taxpayer, for the alleged privacy breach. . .

I don’t know what the law says but if it doesn’t allow the victims to be identified when they want to be, it should be changed.

Suppression in this case appears to be adding insult to the injury they received.

They are the wronged not the wrong-doers and if there is a conflict between their rights and those of the offender, theirs should trump his.


Pork Industry stops raw imports

June 13, 2013

The Pork Industry Board has managed to get biosecurity clearance for raw pork revoked until the appeal in the Supreme Court is determined:

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW ZEALAND
SC 36/2013
[2013] NZSC 58

BETWEEN THE NEW ZEALAND PORK INDUSTRY BOARD
Appellant
AND THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE MINISTRY FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES
First Respondent
AND THE CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER AND BIOSECURITY NEW ZEALAND
Second Respondents

[...]

JUDGMENT OF THE COURT

The order made on 31 May 2013 is revoked and in its place there is an order as follows:

The Ministry for Primary Industries, and any inspector acting on its behalf, is restrained from granting biosecurity clearances under ss 26–28 of the Biosecurity Act 1993 for any consumer ready cuts of raw pork product that may now be imported as a result of the Director-General’s decision to issue the following new import health standards:

• Import Health Standard for Pig Meat and Pig Meat Products for Human Consumption from the European Union, MEAPORIC.EU dated 18 March 2011 (with the exception of products from Sweden and Finland).

• Import Health Standard for Pig Meat and Pig Meat Products for Human Consumption from the Sonora State of Mexico, MEAPORIC.MEX dated 18 March 2011.
• Import Health Standard for Pig Meat and Pig Meat Products for Human Consumption from Canada and/or the United States of America, MEAPORIC.NAM dated 18 March 2011.

This order remains in force pending determination of the present appeal or further order of the Court.

The board has been fighting the imports on the grounds that the risk of importing disease which could threaten locally raised pigs is too great.


“Australian” not racist slur – court

March 13, 2013

An English court has found it’s not racist to call a Kiwi Australian.

Petra Mills, 31, was witnessed by police officers calling her neighbour Chelsea O’Reilly – a British/New Zealand national – a ‘stupid fat Australian’ during a drunken tirade at her former home in Macclesfield.

Macclesfield magistrates found her guilty of racially aggravated public disorder and assaulting a police officer in November last year.

Ms O’Reilly claimed that Czech-born Ms Mills had used the term ‘Australian’ offensively as she knew she was from neighbouring New Zealand.

But Chester Crown Court overturned the public disorder charge after ruling the use of the word ‘Australian’ could not be considered racist.. . .

I understand why Australian couldn’t be considered racist, but why was the injured party more concerned about the slur on her nationality than her intelligence and appearance?


No remorse

February 8, 2013

Lucy Lawless has declared her sentence for boarding a drilling ship a total victory.

She shows no remorse.

Perhaps the $650 fine and 120 hours community service, which is a pretty light sentence, just reinforces her apparent conviction that doing wrong is justified if you think you’re Regard regardless of the risks and costs to others.


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